06/04/2002 9:28 pm ET
As expected, arms a premium for SF
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- If the scouts are right, the 2005 Giants could have one heck of a starting rotation.
In its first 10 picks of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, San Francisco selected six pitchers that have been compared to pitchers like Orel Hershiser, David Cone, Rick Helling and Carlos Perez, while some of the team's other early draftees have been likened to starters such as Jim Edmonds and Gorman Thomas.
"I think we got athletic position players and either pitchers that can pitch or pitchers that have power," said Vice President of Player Personnel Dick Tidrow in an overall review of the first day of the draft.
Of course, several of those players will never play a game at Pacific Bell Park, but right now, they all have big-league dreams.
After taking high school right-hander Matt Cain with their first overall pick, the Giants selected a pair of outfielders -- Fred Lewis, a 6-foot-2 left-handed hitter from Southern University A&M in Baton Rouge, La., and Daniel Ortmeier from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Lewis hit .406 with 12 doubles, six homers, 40 RBIs and a team-high 14 stolen bases for the Jaguars. Ortmeier, a switch-hitting junior, hit .339 with 14 homers and tied a school record with 66 runs batted in. At 6-feet-4 and 210 pounds, he is the player whose body scouts have likened to Thomas, a slugger that hit 268 home runs in 13 big-league seasons.
"They were just too good sitting there in those positions, so we went ahead and took those two gentleman instead of going our normal way of grabbing as much pitching as we can," said Tidrow.
In the fourth round, the Giants nabbed right-hander Kevin Corriea from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where the senior posted an 11-5 record and 4.63 ERA in 24 games and 17 starts. Corriea was drafted last year by the Cardinals after earning the Mike Krukow Most Valuable Pitcher Award, which is named for the Giants announcer who played at that school. But the right-hander opted to return to Cal Poly for his senior season and finished his career with a 17-10 record and 180 strikeouts in 227 1/3 innings.
"I think Corriea could get on a fast track and move through the system rapidly," said Tidrow.
The Giants' fifth-round selection, Kevin Kelly, recently completed his senior season at Duke University. Like Corriea, the 6-foot-2 infielder is a native of San Diego, Calif.
"Kevin is an all-around good player," said Tidrow. "He has a chance to hit for power, plus he's got a real good glove."
One player that was expected to go much higher than he did was Travis Ishikawa, a left-handed-hitting first baseman out of Federal Way High School in Washington. Ishikawa, who also played football in high school, dropped to the 21st round of the draft after signing a national letter of intent to play baseball at Oregon State University.
"We thought he was going to go off the board early, so we had a plan and we stuck to it," said Tidrow, who thinks Ishikawa's signability is what caused the drop-off. "At some point in time, you've got to take a shot at it."
The scouting report on Ishikawa likens him to Arizona's Luis Gonzalez and notes that he's an on-field leader who plays with confidence and composure. He was one of just five high school players taken by the Giants on the first day of the draft, to go along with 15 college players and two players from the junior-college ranks.
Those players were right-hander Kellen Ludwig of Chipola J.C. in Florida, who was previously drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school, and southpaw David Timm out Seminole Junior College.
Ludwig and Timm are two of the 14 pitchers taken by the Giants, who continue their trend of loading up on young arms.
"We tend to draft college players," said the Giants' coordinator of scouting, Matt Nerland, before draft day. "They have a quicker path to the big leagues, and high school players are more of a projection. We don't necessarily stay away, but there's just more risk because you're investing so much money. We tend to draft pitching, and so it's no surprise we come away with a lot of college pitching."
Kelly, the Duke shortstop, was one of just three middle infielders taken by the Giants in the first 22 rounds, joining Aaron Sobieraj of the University of Florida and Jake Wald of George Washington University. Sobieraj, who turned 21 Monday, received a nice present Tuesday when the Giants made him their 13th-round pick. Sobieraj hit .354 with eight homers and 57 RBIs in 63 games for the Gators.
Josh Rawitch covers the Giants for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.